You can probably imagine how long your wait would be at airport security if your passport read "Kingdom of Dracula."
Still, the last known relative of Vlad the Impaler, the medieval Romanian nobleman who inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula, says he's fed up with high German taxes, and he's got local support in his hometown outside Berlin to form a vampire paradise.
Yes, several elected officials in Schenkendorf, with a population of 1,200, are backing him in his bid to secede from Germany and create a country with less bureaucracy and a more responsive government. "We could change 'I want to suck your blood' to 'I come to collect your tax arrears," says Ottomar Rudolphe Vlad Dracul Kretzulesco, who warmly embraces the moniker "Count Dracula."
"In the Kingdom of Dracula, you'll find that tax collecting is much less of a pain in the neck," he told The Wolf Files, speaking through an interpreter. "I want a maximum tax of no more than 20 percent."
‘Fangs Are Tacky’
This Count Dracula has a little different style than his namesake — the Wallachian who relished torturing his enemies, driving sharpened poles though the bellies of disobedient subjects, heretics and unchaste women. Vlad was infamous for feasting outdoors, among mounds of mutilated corpses.
The 21st-century Count Dracula is a hometown hero, but a little less remarkable. He's a 61-year-old retired banker and antiques dealer who is famous for turning his home into a beer garden and vampire museum, featuring "Blood Red" wine, a hearse and coffin museum, and, of course, hundreds of bats.
Make sure you pick up a Songs of Dracula CD when you pass through the gift shop.
If he's turned his family legacy into a tourist trap, at least he's generated some attention and tourism income for depressed Schenkendorf, where he's known for putting on a cape and getting a laugh. "I don't wear fangs," he says. "That's a little tacky."
A Good Reason to Suck Blood
If Prince Otto, as he likes to be called, seems a little removed from the bad old Vlad, it's because he came to the family name late in life. That's right, vampire fans: He's not a blood relative. He doesn't even have a Transylvanian accent.
In the late 1970s, when the prince was a mere commoner, he was befriended by Katharina Olympia Caradja, a princess believed to be the last descendant of the storied Impaler. She complained that there was no male heir to her family fortune — which included two palaces in Bucharest.
Under Romanian law, a male heir was necessary for the rights of royal inheritance. "I waited until after my parents died [in 1987]," he said. "Then I began a new life."
Well off in his own right, he bought his 18-acre Schenkendorf estate five years ago and furnished it with 50 nesting boxes for bats.
A few years back, he began hosting "bloodlettings" — to get people to give blood to the local Red Cross.
"I want your blood," Dracula said, "for a very good cause."
Thousands of people came, watching him rise from a coffin to kick off the events, which, he says, resulted in the collection of more than 3,000 liters of blood.
But a vampire leads a troubled life. Dracula's estate has been repeatedly attacked by skinheads, who've scrawled swastikas on the walls. And he's been unable to stop a conglomerate that plans to open a Dracula Land amusement park in Romania. It will feature movie theaters, vampire rides, a Gothic castle, a golf course, restaurants and shops.